Source Documents in the Legislative History of Section 230

This is a supplement/appendix to A Comment on Malwarebytes v. Enigma, whose disclaimer also applies to this.

Since I wrote the article linked above I have decided to include some legislative history of Section 230. The legislative history of a law encompasses the debates in Congress that led to its being passed.

Due to the moderate degree of difficulty involved in finding the legislative history, and the improbability of you being here to read the comments of a tired 17-year-old on it, this will mainly be a convenient collection of source documents regarding the legislative history, including speeches, debates, excerpts from reports, and drafts. Some editorial comments will be made to aid the reader but no criticism or judgment of the matter will be made.

Internet Freedom and Family Empowerment Act (original source of section 230, died in committee)

[This bill was acknowledged in the Senate. However, since the acknowledgment consists of a reprint of a Newsweek article (obviously not public domain), it will not be reproduced here. Cox and Wyden were also petitioned by an organization not to pass it. This petition will also, for copyright reasons, not be reproduced]

[Congressional Bills 104th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 1978 Introduced in House (IH)]




104th CONGRESS
 1st Session
                               H. R. 1978
 To encourage and protect private sector initiatives that improve user 
             control over computer information services.


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
                            June 30, 1995
  Mr. Cox of California (for himself and Mr. Wyden) introduced the 
   following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Commerce

_______________________________________________________________________

                                A BILL


To encourage and protect private sector initiatives that improve user 
             control over computer information services.
   Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
   This Act may be cited as the ``Internet Freedom and Family Empowerment Act.
SEC. 2. ONLINE FAMILY EMPOWERMENT.
   Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 201 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
``SEC. 230. PROTECTION FOR PRIVATE BLOCKING AND SCREENING OF OFFENSIVE 
             MATERIAL; FCC CONTENT AND ECONOMIC REGULATION OF COMPUTER 
             SERVICES PROHIBITED.
   ``(a) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
           ``(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and other 
       interactive computer services available to individual Americans 
       represent an extraordinary advance in the availability of 
       educational and informational resources to our citizens.
           ``(2) These services offer users a great degree of control 
       over the information that they receive, as well as the 
       potential for even greater control in the future as technology 
       develops.
           ``(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services 
       offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, 
       unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad 
       avenues for intellectual activity.
           ``(4) The Internet and other interactive computer services 
       have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a 
       minimum of government regulation.
           ``(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive 
       media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and 
       entertainment services.
   ``(b) Policy.--It is the policy of the United States to--
           ``(1) promote the continued development of the Internet and 
       other interactive computer services and other interactive 
       media;
           ``(2) preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that 
       presently exists for the Internet and other interactive 
       computer services, unfettered by State or Federal regulation;
           ``(3) encourage the development of technologies which 
       maximize user control over the information received by 
       individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and 
       other interactive computer services;
           ``(4) remove disincentives for the development and 
       utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower 
       parents to restrict their children's access to objectionable or 
       inappropriate online material; and
           ``(5) ensure vigorous enforcement of criminal laws to deter 
       and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment 
       by means of computer.
   ``(c) Protection for `Good Samaritan' Blocking and Screening of Offensive Material.--No provider or user of interactive computer services shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by an information content provider. No provider or user of interactive computer services shall be held liable on account of--
           ``(1) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to 
       restrict access to material that the provider or user considers 
       to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, 
       harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such 
       material is constitutionally protected; or
           ``(2) any action taken to make available to information 
       content providers or others the technical means to restrict 
       access to material described in paragraph (1).
   ``(d) FCC Regulation of the Internet and Other Interactive Computer Services Prohibited.--Nothing in this Act shall be construed to grant any jurisdiction or authority to the Commission with respect to economic or content regulation of the Internet or other interactive computer services.
   ``(e) Effect on Other Laws.--
           ``(1) No effect on criminal law.--Nothing in this section 
       shall be construed to impair the enforcement of section 223 of 
       this Act, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 (relating 
       to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, United States 
       Code, or any other Federal criminal statute.
           ``(2) No effect on intellectual property law.--Nothing in 
       this section shall be construed to limit or expand any law 
       pertaining to intellectual property.
           ``(3) In general.--Nothing in this section shall be 
       construed to prevent any State from enforcing any State law 
       that is consistent with this section.
   ``(f) Definitions.--As used in this section:
           ``(1) Internet.--The term `Internet' means the 
       international computer network of both Federal and non-Federal 
       interoperable packet switched data networks.
           ``(2) Interactive computer service.--The term `interactive 
       computer service' means any information service that provides 
       computer access to multiple users via modem to a remote 
       computer server, including specifically a service that provides 
       access to the Internet.
           ``(3) Information content provider.--The term `information 
       content provider' means any person or entity that is 
       responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or 
       development of information provided by the Internet or any 
       other interactive computer service, including any person or 
       entity that creates or develops blocking or screening software 
       or other techniques to permit user control over offensive 
       material.
           ``(4) Information service.--The term `information service' 
       means the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, 
       storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or 
       making available information via telecommunications, and 
       includes electronic publishing, but does not include any use of 
       any such capability for the management, control, or operation 
       of a telecommunications system or the management of a 
       telecommunications service..

Exon Considers Cox-Wyden Supplement, not Substitute For, CDA

[The full text of the letter, while available online, is copyrighted. However, since Senator Exon quoted part of it in a speech to the Senate, I believe the parts he quoted are covered under "fair use" as a report of an actual proceeding on the Senate floor]

 Mr. EXON. Mr. President, this letter is by a distinguished lawyer, who has, I guess, as much experience with the prosecution of pornographers as most lawyers in the United States would recognize as a real authority on the subject.
 The letter of July 10 is addressed to the Honorable Christopher Cox of the House of Representatives and the Honorable Ron Wyden of the House of Representatives. The subject is the Cox-Wyden bill on Internet connectors as consistent with the Exon-Coats Senate decency amendment. And I quote:
      Dear Representatives Cox and Wyden: Please excuse the 
    length of this letter, but much misinformation needs to be 
    corrected and this is an issue of utmost importance to 
    America's children and families. You have been lied to. I'd 
    like to give you my views on the pornographer's propaganda 
    and offer an explanation of the true meaning of the Exon-
    Coats amendment dealing with computer assisted obscenity and 
    the problem of indecency being made available to minors.
      A review of your proposed legislation to protect the 
    computer information service providers shows that you are 
    trying to accomplish the same objectives as the Senate 
    version of the communications decency amendment (``CDA).
     Whatever you may have been led to believe about the ``Exon-
    Coats amendment is obviously incorrect. The Senate bill 
    accomplishes the same benefits and protections your 
    proposed bill seeks to provide. However, I feel your bill, 
    in giving immunity and a defense without a corresponding 
    offense, will have the opposite effect to that which you 
    seek.
 Mr. President, although the letter has been printed in the Record, I would like at this time to quote from the last two or three paragraphs:
      The communications decency amendment is a good, fair, and 
    constitutional proposal. You and your colleagues have been 
    lied to about what it would do and what it provides. I trust 
    that you seek a proper blend of law and private action and I 
    trust in your instincts to see through the smoke. Without a 
    law, the computer nets will continue to be abused by the 
    purveyors of hard-core obscenity and it will continue to be a 
    place in which responsible adults should fear to let their 
    children play. A law that does not prohibit unlawful 
    materials is no law at all to the pornography syndicates, 
    their associates, and the addicted customers. An overly 
    strict law would not be tolerated by the courts, for fear of 
    an unconstitutional prior restraint.
      There is no reasonable doubt that only a carefully worded 
    and first amendment sensitive statute will survive the legal 
    challenges of the ACLU, Center for Democracy and Technology, 
    Electronic Frontier Foundation, and some commercial 
    pornographic companies will mount. The CDA can withstand the 
    tests to be applied, no other proposal can make that claim. 
    This is a serious problem and needs a serious and lawful 
    solution. The CDA would be a valid extension of Federal 
    obscenity law to the computer networks and a valid extension 
    of dial-a-porn protections for children from indecent adult 
    material.
      Our hope is that you sponsor and support the CDA as passed 
    by the Senate. Your leadership would probably insure its 
    passage. The country, all us parents and grandparents, all of 
    our children, our neighbors, even the addicted customers need 
    your help and that of your fellow Members of the House of 
    Representatives. Please reconsider and look at the 
    communications decency amendment in a new light. It is a good 
    bill. Look for yourself. It won't lie to you like porn 
    advocates have.
      Please let me know if we can be of help in this regard.
          Sincerely yours,
                                                 Bruce A. Taylor,
        President and Chief Counsel for the National Law Center 
          for Children and Families
 Mr. President, since the Exon-Coats measure passed with a 84 to 16 majority, the Senate of the United States sent a very loud and clear signal that something has to be done about obscenity. Something has to be done with regard to material that is being used promiscuously on the Internet today. This is a wonderful new system for the distribution of information. But if we are to sit idly by and listen to some of the opponents, who do not want to do anything about this problem, the American people are being convinced and are now being told by national publications, including Time magazine, who last week had an indepth story with a front-page cover showing a child.
 This is a carefully crafted piece of legislation. It is obviously necessary, as has become evident to most people who have taken the time to either see this smut--and I use that word very advisedly because it does not begin to describe the bestiality and the sexual perverts that have invaded this system, primarily to make money.
 The courts have continually held that we have the right to do something in the courts when we have this kind of material in full swing. We had a hearing in the Commerce Committee today, primarily on violence on television. The people are justifiably upset about that. We also talked today about the large amount of sex and suggested sex that is being thrown at our children today. The Exon-Coats proposal with regard to our Internet system is an important step in the right direction. And as more and more people look at it, and as more and more people recognize all of the lies that are being told about this piece of legislation--simply untruths designed and planted in many publications by those who want the pornographers to run at will and be available at will to our children on the Internet.
 Mr. President, I think this is a step in the right direction. I have personally hand delivered a copy of this letter that I had printed in the Record to the Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno. I have had a personal conversation with the Vice President of the United States about this today. He was very much interested in this letter. I faxed the letter to him. In addition thereto, I have had delivered today to the White House itself, to the attention of the President, this well-thought-out letter that adequately and honestly describes the well-thought-out Exon-Coats amendment. I only hope that the Members of the House of Representatives will awaken. I think too many of them have been misled and lied to about the communications decency amendment. I hope it becomes law.
I thank the Chair and yield the floor.

Schedule of Debate on Cox-Wyden Amendment

2-3. Cox (CA), Wyden (OR)--Insert a new section 104 protecting from liability those providers and users seeking to clean up the Internet and prohibiting the FCC from imposing content or any regulation of the Internet. (20 minutes)

Cox-Wyden Amendment (IFFEA consolidated with it)

[The page numbers in this text are of Volume 141 of the Congressional Record]

              amendment offered by mr. cox of california
 Mr. COX of California. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment numbered 2-3.
 The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
 The text of the amendment is as follows:
      Amendment number 2-3 offered by Mr. Cox of California:'
      Page 78, before line 18, insert the following new section 
    (and redesignate the succeeding sections and conform the 
    table of contents accordingly):

[Subsection (d) in this draft was not in the final law]

    SEC. 104. ONLINE FAMILY EMPOWERMENT.
      Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 201 
    et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new 
    section:
    ``SEC. PROTECTION FOR PRIVATE BLOCKING AND SCREENING OF 
                  OFFENSIVE MATERIAL; FCC REGULATION OF COMPUTER 
                  SERVICES PROHIBITED.
      ``(a) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
      ``(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and other 
    interactive computer services available to individual 
    Americans represent an extraordinary advance in the 
    availability of educational and informational resources to 
    our citizens.
      ``(2) These services offer users a great degree of control 
    over the information that they receive, as well as the 
    potential for even greater control in the future as 
    technology develops.
      ``(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services 
    offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, 
    unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad 
    avenues for intellectual activity.
      ``(4) The Internet and other interactive computer services 
    have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a 
    minimum of government regulation.
      ``(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive 
    media for a variety of political, 
 Page H 8469
    educational, cultural, and entertainment services.
      ``(b) Policy.--It is the policy of the United States to--
      ``(1) promote the continued development of the Internet and 
    other interactive computer services and other interactive 
    media;
      ``(2) preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that 
    presently exists for the Internet and other interactive 
    computer services, unfettered by State or Federal regulation;
      ``(3) encourage the development of technologies which 
    maximize user control over the information received by 
    individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and 
    other interactive computer services;
      ``(4) remove disincentives for the development and 
    utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that 
    empower parents to restrict their children's access to 
    objectionable or inappropriate online material; and
      ``(5) ensure vigorous enforcement of criminal laws to deter 
    and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment 
    by means of computer.
      ``(c) Protection for `Good Samaritan' Blocking and 
    Screening of Offensive Material.--No provider or user of 
    interactive computer services shall be treated as the 
    publisher or speaker of any information provided by an 
    information content provider. No provider or user of 
    interactive computer services shall be held liable on account 
    of--
      ``(1) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to 
    restrict access to material that the provider or user 
    considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, 
    excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, 
    whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; 
    or
      ``(2) any action taken to make available to information 
    content providers or others the technical means to restrict 
    access to material described in paragraph (1).
      ``(d) FCC Regulation of the Internet and Other Interactive 
    Computer Services Prohibited.--Nothing in this Act shall be 
    construed to grant any jurisdiction or authority to the 
    Commission with respect to content or any other regulation of 
    the Internet or other interactive computer services.
      ``(e) Effect on Other Laws.--
      ``(1) No effect on criminal law.--Nothing in this section 
    shall be construed to impair the enforcement of section 223 
    of this Act, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 
    (relating to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, 
    United States Code, or any other Federal criminal statute.
      ``(2) No effect on intellectual property law.--Nothing in 
    this section shall be construed to limit or expand any law 
    pertaining to intellectual property.
      ``(3) In general.--Nothing in this section shall be 
    construed to prevent any State from enforcing any State law 
    that is consistent with this section.
      ``(f) Definitions.--As used in this section:
      ``(1) Internet.--The term `Internet' means the 
    international computer network of both Federal and non-
    Federal interoperable packet switched data networks.
      ``(2) Interactive computer service.--The term `interactive 
    computer service' means any information service that provides 
    computer access to multiple users via modem to a remote 
    computer server, including specifically a service that 
    provides access to the Internet.
      ``(3) Information content provider.--The term `information 
    content provider' means any person or entity that is 
    responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or 
    development of information provided by the Internet or any 
    other interactive computer service, including any person or 
    entity that creates or develops blocking or screening 
    software or other techniques to permit user control over 
    offensive material.
      ``(4) Information service.--The term `information service' 
    means the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, 
    storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or 
    making available information via telecommunications, and 
    includes electronic publishing, but does not include any use 
    of any such capability for the management, control, or 
    operation of a telecommunications system or the management of 
    a telecommunications service..
 The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from California 
[Mr. Cox] will be recognized for 10 minutes, and a Member opposed will 
be recognized for 10 minutes. Who seeks time in opposition?

[Here, nobody asked for opposition, so the Speaker gave the 10 minutes to Wyden to also speak in support of the amendment.]

 Mr. COX of California. Mr. Chairman, I wish to begin by thanking my colleague, the gentleman from Oregon [Mr. Wyden], who has worked so hard and so diligently on this effort with all of our colleagues.
 We are talking about the Internet now, not about telephones, not about television or radios, not about cable TV, not about broadcasting, but in technological terms and historical terms, an absolutely brand-new technology.
 The Internet is a fascinating place and many of us have recently become acquainted with all that it holds for us in terms of education and political discourse.
 We want to make sure that everyone in America has an open invitation and feels welcome to participate in the Internet. But as you know, there is some reason for people to be wary because, as a Time Magazine cover story recently highlighted, there is in this vast world of computer information, a literal computer library, some offensive material, some things in the bookstore, if you will, that our children ought not to see.
 As the parent of two, I want to make sure that my children have access to this future and that I do not have to worry about what they might be running into on line. I would like to keep that out of my house and off of my computer. How should we do this?
 Some have suggested, Mr. Chairman, that we take the Federal Communications Commission and turn it into the Federal Computer Commission, that we hire even more bureaucrats and more regulators who will attempt, either civilly or criminally, to punish people by catching them in the act of putting something into cyberspace.
 Frankly, there is just too much going on on the Internet for that to be effective. No matter how big the army of bureaucrats, it is not going to protect my kids because I do not think the Federal Government will get there in time. Certainly, criminal enforcement of our obscenity laws as an adjunct is a useful way of punishing the truly guilty.
 Mr. Chairman, what we want are results. We want to make sure we do something that actually works. Ironically, the existing legal system provides a massive disincentive for the people who might best help us control the Internet to do so.
 I will give you two quick examples: A Federal court in New York, in a case involving CompuServe, one of our on-line service providers, held that CompuServe would not be liable in a defamation case because it was not the publisher or editor of the material. It just let everything come onto your computer without, in any way, trying to screen it or control it.
 But another New York court, the New York Supreme Court, held that Prodigy, CompuServe's competitor, could be held liable in a $200 million defamation case because someone had posted on one of their bulletin boards, a financial bulletin board, some remarks that apparently were untrue about an investment bank, that the investment bank would go out of business and was run by crooks.
 Prodigy said, ``No, no; just like CompuServe, we did not control or edit that information, nor could we, frankly. We have over 60,000 of these messages each day, we have over 2 million subscribers, and so you cannot proceed with this kind of a case against us.
 The court said, ``No, no, no, no, you are different; you are different than CompuServe because you are a family-friendly network. You advertise yourself as such. You employ screening and blocking software that keeps obscenity off of your network. You have people who are hired to exercise an emergency delete function to keep that kind of 
Page H 8470
material away from your subscribers. You don't permit nudity on your  system. You have content guidelines. You, therefore, are going to face higher, stricter liability because you tried to exercise some control over offensive material.
                             {time}  1015
 Mr. Chairman, that is backward. We want to encourage people like Prodigy, like CompuServe, like America Online, like the new Microsoft network, to do everything possible for us, the customer, to help us control, at the portals of our computer, at the front door of our house, what comes in and what our children see. This technology is very quickly becoming available, and in fact every one of us will be able to tailor what we see to our own tastes.
 We can go much further, Mr. Chairman, than blocking obscenity or indecency, whatever that means in its loose interpretations. We can keep away from our children things not only prohibited by law, but prohibited by parents. That is where we should be headed, and that is what the gentleman from Oregon [Mr. Wyden] and I are doing.
 Mr. Chairman, our amendment will do two basic things: First, it will protect computer Good Samaritans, online service providers, anyone who provides a front end to the Internet, let us say, who takes steps to screen indecency and offensive material for their customers. It will protect them from taking on liability such as occurred in the Prodigy case in New York that they should not face for helping us and for helping us solve this problem. Second, it will establish as the policy of the United States that we do not wish to have content regulation by the Federal Government of what is on the Internet, that we do not wish to have a Federal Computer Commission with an army of bureaucrats regulating the Internet because frankly the Internet has grown up to be what it is without that kind of help from the Government. In this fashion we can encourage what is right now the most energetic technological revolution that any of us has ever witnessed. We can make it better. We can make sure that it operates more quickly to solve our problem of keeping pornography away from our kids, keeping offensive material away from our kids, and I am very excited about it.
 There are other ways to address this problem, some of which run head-on into our approach. About those let me simply say that there is a well-known road paved with good intentions. We all know where it leads. The message today should be from this Congress we embrace this new technology, we welcome the opportunity for education and political discourse that it offers for all of us. We want to help it along this time by saying Government is going to get out of the way and let parents and individuals control it rather than Government doing that job for us.
 Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
 Mr. WYDEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise to speak on behalf of the Cox-Wyden amendment. In beginning, I want to thank the gentleman from California [Mr. Cox] for the chance to work with him. I think we all come here because we are most interested in policy issues, and the opportunity I have had to work with the gentleman from California has really been a special pleasure, and I want to thank him for it. I also want to thank the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Dingell], our ranking minority member, for the many courtesies he has shown, along with the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Markey], and, as always, the gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Bliley] and the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Fields] have been very helpful and cooperative on this effort.
 Mr. Chairman and colleagues, the Internet is the shining star of the information age, and Government censors must not be allowed to spoil its promise. We are all against smut and pornography, and, as the parents of two small computer-literate children, my wife and I have seen our kids find their way into these chat rooms that make their middle-aged parents cringe. So let us all stipulate right at the outset the importance of protecting our kids and going to the issue of the best way to do it.
 The gentleman from California [Mr. Cox] and I are here to say that we believe that parents and families are better suited to guard the portals of cyberspace and protect our children than our Government bureaucrats. Parents can get relief now from the smut on the Internet by making a quick trip to the neighborhood computer store where they can purchase reasonably priced software that blocks out the pornography on the Internet. I brought some of this technology to the floor, a couple of the products that are reasonably priced and available, simply to make clear to our colleagues that it is possible for our parents now to child-proof the family computer with these products available in the private sector.
 Now what the gentleman from California [Mr. Cox] and I have proposed does stand in sharp contrast to the work of the other body. They seek there to try to put in place the Government rather than the private sector about this task of trying to define indecent communications and protecting our kids. In my view that approach, the approach of the other body, will essentially involve the Federal Government spending vast sums of money trying to define elusive terms that are going to lead to a flood of legal challenges while our kids are unprotected. The fact of the matter is that the Internet operates worldwide, and not even a Federal Internet censorship army would give our Government the power to keep offensive material out of the hands of children who use the new interactive media, and I would say to my colleagues that, if there is this kind of Federal Internet censorship army that somehow the other body seems to favor, it is going to make the Keystone Cops look like crackerjack crime-fighter.
 Mr. Chairman, the new media is simply different. We have the opportunity to build a 21st century policy for the Internet employing the technologies and the creativity designed by the private sector.
 I hope my colleagues will support the amendment offered by gentleman from California [Mr. Cox] and myself, and I reserve the balance of my time.
 Mr. COX of California. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Barton].
 (Mr. BARTON of Texas asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
 Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, Members of the House, this is a very good amendment. There is no question that we are having an explosion of information on the emerging superhighway. Unfortunately part of that information is of a nature that we do not think would be suitable for our children to see on our PC screens in our homes.
 Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Oregon [Mr. Wyden] and the gentleman from California [Mr. Cox] have worked hard to put together a reasonable way to provide those providers of the information to help them self-regulate themselves without penalty of law. I think it is a much better approach than the approach that has been taken in the Senate by the Exon amendment. I would hope that we would support this version in our bill in the House and then try to get the House-Senate conference to adopt the Cox-Wyden language.
 So, Mr. Chairman, it is a good piece of legislation, a good amendment, and I hope we can pass it unanimously in the body.
 Mr. WYDEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from Missouri [Ms. Danner] who has also worked hard in this area.
 Ms. DANNER. Mr. Chairman, I wish to engage the gentleman from Oregon [Mr. Wyden] in a brief colloquy.
 Mr. Chairman, I strongly support the gentleman's efforts, as well as those of the gentleman from California [Mr. Cox], to address the problem of children having untraceable access through on-line computer services to inappropriate and obscene pornographic materials available on the Internet.
 Telephone companies must inform us as to whom our long distance calls are made. I believe that if computer on-line services were to include itemized billing, it would be a practical solution which would inform parents as to what materials their children are accessing on the Internet.
 It is my hope and understanding that we can work together in pursuing technology based solutions to the problems 
Page H 8471
we face in dealing with controlling the transfer of obscene materials in cyberspace.
 Mr. WYDEN. Mr. Chairman, will the gentlewoman yield?
 Ms. DANNER. I yield to the gentleman from Oregon.
 Mr. WYDEN. Mr. Chairman, I thank my colleague for her comments, and we will certainly take this up with some of the private-sector firms that are working in this area.
 Mr. COX of California. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Washington [Mr. White].
 Mr. WHITE. Mr. Chairman, I would like to point out to the House that, as my colleagues know, this is a very important issue for me, not only because of our district, but because I have got four small children at home. I got them from age 3 to 11, and I can tell my colleagues I get E-mails on a regular basis from my 11-year-old, and my 9-year-old spends a lot of time surfing the Internet on America Online. This is an important issue to me. I want to be sure we can protect them from the wrong influences on the Internet.
 But I have got to tell my colleagues, Mr. Chairman, the last person I want making that decision is the Federal Government. In my district right now there are people developing technology that will allow a parent to sit down and program the Internet to provide just the kind of materials that they want their child to see. That is where this responsibility should be, in the hands of the parent.
 That is why I was proud to cosponsor this bill, that is what this bill does, and I urge my colleagues to pass it.
 Mr. WYDEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from California [Ms. Lofgren].
 Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Chairman, I will bet that there are not very many parts of the country where Senator Exon's amendment has been on the front page of the newspaper practically every day, but that is the case in Silicon Valley. I think that is because so many of us got on the Internet early and really understand the technology, and I surf the Net with my 10-year-old and 13-year-old, and I am also concerned about pornography. In fact, earlier this year I offered a life sentence for the creators of child pornography, but Senator Exon's approach is not the right way. Really it is like saying that the mailman is going to be liable when he delivers a plain brown envelope for what is inside it. It will not work. It is a misunderstanding of the technology. The private sector is out giving parents the tools that they have. I am so excited that there is more coming on. I very much endorse the Cox-Wyden amendment, and I would urge its approval so that we preserve the first amendment and open systems on the Net.
 Mr. WYDEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Goodlatte].
 (Mr. GOODLATTE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
 Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Oregon [Mr. Wyden] for yielding this time to me, and I rise in strong support of the Cox-Wyden amendment. This will help to solve a very serious problem as we enter into the Internet age. We have the opportunity for every household in America, every family in America, soon to be able to have access to places like the Library of Congress, to have access to other major libraries of the world, universities, major publishers of information, news sources. There is no way that any of those entities, like Prodigy, can take the responsibility to edit out information that is going to be coming in to them from all manner of sources onto their bulletin board. We are talking about something that is far larger than our daily newspaper. We are talking about something that is going to be thousands of pages of information every day, and to have that imposition imposed on them is wrong. This will cure that problem, and I urge the Members to support the amendment.
                             {time}  1030
 Mr. WYDEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Markey], the ranking member of the subcommittee.
 Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, I want to congratulate the gentleman from Oregon and the gentleman from California for their amendment. It is a significant improvement over the approach of the Senator from Nebraska, Senator Exon.
 This deals with the reality that the Internet is international, it is computer-based, it has a completely different history and future than anything that we have known thus far, and I support the language. It deals with the content concerns which the gentlemen from Oregon and California have raised.
 Mr. Chairman, the only reservation which I would have is that they add in not only content but also any other type of registration. I think in an era of convergence of technologies where telephone and cable may converge with the Internet at some point and some ways it is important for us to ensure that we will have an opportunity down the line to look at those issues, and my hope is that in the conference committee we will be able to sort those out.
 Mr. WYDEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Fields].
 Mr. FIELDS of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I just want to take the time to thank him and also the gentleman from California for this fine work. This is a very sensitive area, very complex area, but it is a very important area for the American public, and I just wanted to congratulate him and the gentleman from California on how they worked together in a bipartisan fashion.
 Mr. WYDEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume. I thank the gentleman for his kindness.
 Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, let me say that the reason that this approach rather than the Senate approach is important is our plan allows us to help American families today.
 Under our approach and the speed at which these technologies are advancing, the marketplace is going to give parents the tools they need while the Federal Communications Commission is out there cranking out rules about proposed rulemaking programs. Their approach is going to set back the effort to help our families. Our approach allows us to help American families today.
 Mr. COX of California. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
 Mr. Chairman, I would just like to respond briefly to the important point in this bill that prohibits the FCC from regulating the Internet. Price regulation is at one with usage of the Internet.
 We want to make sure that the complicated way that the Internet sends a document to your computer, splitting it up into packets, sending it through myriad computers around the world before it reaches your desk is eventually grasped by technology so that we can price it, and we can price ration usage on the Internet so more and more people can use it without overcrowding it.
 If we regulate the Internet at the FCC, that will freeze or at least slow down technology. It will threaten the future of the Internet. That is why it is so important that we not have a Federal computer commission do that.
 Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, Congress has a responsibility to help encourage the private sector to protect our children from being exposed to obscene and indecent material on the Internet. Most parents aren't around all day to monitor what their kids are pulling up on the net, and in fact, parents have a hard time keeping up with their kids' abilities to surf cyberspace. Parents need some help and the Cox-Wyden amendment provides it.
 The Cox-Wyden amendment is a thoughtful approach to keep smut off the net without government censorship.
 We have been told it is technologically impossible for interactive service providers to guarantee that no subscriber posts indecent material on their bulletin board services. But that doesn't mean that providers should not be given incentives to police the use of their systems. And software and other measures are available to help screen out this material.
 Currently, however, there is a tremendous disincentive for online service providers to create family friendly services by detecting and removing objectionable content. These providers face the risk of increased liability where they take reasonable steps to police their systems. A New York judge recently sent the online services the message to stop policing by ruling that Prodigy was subject to a $200 million libel suit simply because it did exercise some control over profanity and indecent material.
 The Cox-Wyden amendment removes the liability of providers such as Prodigy who currently make a good faith effort to edit the smut 
Page H 8472
from their systems. It also encourages the online services industry to develop new technology, such as blocking software, to empower parents to monitor and control the information their kids can access. And, it is important to note that under this amendment existing laws prohibiting the transmission of child pornography and obscenity will continue to be enforced.
 The Cox-Wyden amendment empowers parents without Federal regulation. It allows parents to make the important decisions with regard to what their children can access, not the government. It doesn't violate free speech or the right of adults to communicate with each other. That's the right approach and I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
 The Chairman. All time on this amendment has expired.
 The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from California [Mr. Cox].
 The question was taken; and the Chairman announced that the ayes appeared to have it.
 Mr. COX of California. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.

Vote on Cox-Wyden Amendment

[See https://clerk.house.gov/Votes/1995631 for party statistics]

recorded vote
 The CHAIRMAN. A recorded vote has been demanded.
 A recorded vote was ordered.
 The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--ayes 420, noes 4, not voting 10, as follows:
                            [Roll No. 631]
                              AYES--420
    Abercrombie
    Ackerman
    Allard
    Archer
    Armey
    Bachus
    Baesler
    Baker (CA)
    Baker (LA)
    Baldacci
    Ballenger
    Barcia
    Barr
    Barrett (NE)
    Barrett (WI)
    Bartlett
    Barton
    Bass
    Becerra
    Beilenson
    Bentsen
    Bereuter
    Berman
    Bevill
    Bilbray
    Bilirakis
    Bishop
    Bliley
    Blute
    Boehlert
    Boehner
    Bonilla
    Bonior
    Bono
    Borski
    Boucher
    Brewster
    Browder
    Brown (CA)
    Brown (FL)
    Brown (OH)
    Brownback
    Bryant (TN)
    Bryant (TX)
    Bunn
    Bunning
    Burr
    Burton
    Buyer
    Callahan
    Calvert
    Camp
    Canady
    Cardin
    Castle
    Chabot
    Chambliss
    Chapman
    Chenoweth
    Christensen
    Chrysler
    Clay
    Clayton
    Clement
    Clinger
    Clyburn
    Coble
    Coburn
    Coleman
    Collins (GA)
    Collins (IL)
    Collins (MI)
    Combest
    Condit
    Conyers
    Cooley
    Costello
    Cox
    Coyne
    Cramer
    Crane
    Crapo
    Cremeans
    Cubin
    Cunningham
    Danner
    Davis
    de la Garza
    Deal
    DeFazio
    DeLauro
    DeLay
    Dellums
    Deutsch
    Diaz-Balart
    Dickey
    Dicks
    Dingell
    Dixon
    Doggett
    Dooley
    Doolittle
    Dornan
    Doyle
    Dreier
    Duncan
    Dunn
    Durbin
    Edwards
    Ehlers
    Ehrlich
    Emerson
    Engel
    English
    Ensign
    Eshoo
    Evans
    Everett
    Ewing
    Farr
    Fattah
    Fawell
    Fazio
    Fields (LA)
    Fields (TX)
    Filner
    Flake
    Flanagan
    Foglietta
    Foley
    Forbes
    Ford
    Fowler
    Fox
    Frank (MA)
    Franks (CT)
    Franks (NJ)
    Frelinghuysen
    Frisa
    Frost
    Funderburk
    Furse
    Gallegly
    Ganske
    Gejdenson
    Gekas
    Gephardt
    Geren
    Gibbons
    Gilchrest
    Gillmor
    Gilman
    Gonzalez
    Goodlatte
    Goodling
    Gordon
    Goss
    Graham
    Green
    Greenwood
    Gunderson
    Gutierrez
    Gutknecht
    Hall (OH)
    Hall (TX)
    Hamilton
    Hancock
    Hansen
    Harman
    Hastert
    Hastings (FL)
    Hastings (WA)
    Hayes
    Hayworth
    Hefley
    Hefner
    Heineman
    Herger
    Hilleary
    Hilliard
    Hinchey
    Hobson
    Hoekstra
    Hoke
    Holden
    Horn
    Hostettler
    Houghton
    Hoyer
    Hutchinson
    Hyde
    Inglis
    Istook
    Jackson-Lee
    Jacobs
    Jefferson
    Johnson (CT)
    Johnson (SD)
    Johnson, E. B.
    Johnson, Sam
    Johnston
    Jones
    Kanjorski
    Kaptur
    Kasich
    Kelly
    Kennedy (MA)
    Kennedy (RI)
    Kennelly
    Kildee
    Kim
    King
    Kingston
    Kleczka
    Klink
    Klug
    Knollenberg
    Kolbe
    LaFalce
    LaHood
    Lantos
    Largent
    Latham
    LaTourette
    Laughlin
    Lazio
    Leach
    Levin
    Lewis (CA)
    Lewis (GA)
    Lewis (KY)
    Lightfoot
    Lincoln
    Linder
    Lipinski
    Livingston
    LoBiondo
    Lofgren
    Longley
    Lowey
    Lucas
    Luther
    Maloney
    Manton
    Manzullo
    Markey
    Martinez
    Martini
    Mascara
    Matsui
    McCarthy
    McCollum
    McCrery
    McDade
    McDermott
    McHale
    McHugh
    McInnis
    McIntosh
    McKeon
    McKinney
    McNulty
    Meehan
    Meek
    Menendez
    Metcalf
    Meyers
    Mfume
    Mica
    Miller (CA)
    Miller (FL)
    Mineta
    Minge
    Mink
    Molinari
    Mollohan
    Montgomery
    Moorhead
    Moran
    Morella
    Murtha
    Myers
    Myrick
    Nadler
    Neal
    Neumann
    Ney
    Norwood
    Nussle
    Oberstar
    Obey
    Olver
    Orton
    Owens
    Oxley
    Packard
    Pallone
    Parker
    Pastor
    Paxon
    Payne (NJ)
    Payne (VA)
    Pelosi
    Peterson (FL)
    Peterson (MN)
    Petri
    Pickett
    Pombo
    Pomeroy
    Porter
    Portman
    Poshard
    Pryce
    Quillen
    Quinn
    Radanovich
    Rahall
    Ramstad
    Rangel
    Reed
    Regula
Page H 8479
    Richardson
    Riggs
    Rivers
    Roberts
    Roemer
    Rogers
    Rohrabacher
    Ros-Lehtinen
    Rose
    Roth
    Roukema
    Roybal-Allard
    Royce
    Rush
    Sabo
    Salmon
    Sanders
    Sanford
    Sawyer
    Saxton
    Schaefer
    Schiff
    Schroeder
    Schumer
    Scott
    Seastrand
    Sensenbrenner
    Serrano
    Shadegg
    Shaw
    Shays
    Shuster
    Sisisky
    Skaggs
    Skeen
    Skelton
    Slaughter
    Smith (MI)
    Smith (TX)
    Smith (WA)
    Solomon
    Spence
    Spratt
    Stark
    Stearns
    Stenholm
    Stockman
    Stokes
    Studds
    Stump
    Stupak
    Talent
    Tanner
    Tate
    Tauzin
    Taylor (MS)
    Taylor (NC)
    Tejeda
    Thomas
    Thompson
    Thornberry
    Thornton
    Tiahrt
    Torkildsen
    Torres
    Torricelli
    Towns
    Traficant
    Tucker
    Upton
    Velazquez
    Vento
    Visclosky
    Volkmer
    Vucanovich
    Waldholtz
    Walker
    Walsh
    Wamp
    Ward
    Waters
    Watt (NC)
    Watts (OK)
    Waxman
    Weldon (FL)
    Weldon (PA)
    Weller
    White
    Whitfield
    Wicker
    Wilson
    Wise
    Woolsey
    Wyden
    Wynn
    Yates
    Young (FL)
    Zeliff
    Zimmer
                               NOES--4
    Hunter
    Smith (NJ)
    Souder
    Wolf
                            NOT VOTING--10
    Andrews
    Bateman
    Moakley
    Nethercutt
    Ortiz
    Reynolds
    Scarborough
    Thurman
    Williams
    Young (AK)
                             {time}  1156
 So the amendment was agreed to.
 The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
                         personal explanation
 Mr. NETHERCUTT. Mr. Chairman, I was not recorded on rollcall vote No. 631. The Record should reflect that I would have voted ``aye.

Cox-Wyden Incorporated in Manager's Amendment as Section 231

            [22. Online Family Empowerment]
      Page 78, before line 18, insert the following new section 
    (and redesignate the succeeding sections and conform the 
    table of contents accordingly):
    SEC. 104. ONLINE FAMILY EMPOWERMENT.
      Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 201 
    et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 230 (as added 
    by section 103 of this Act) the following new section:

[Definition of "information service" has been deleted]

    ``SEC. 231. PROTECTION FOR PRIVATE BLOCKING AND SCREENING OF 
                  OFFENSIVE MATERIAL; FCC CONTENT AND ECONOMIC 
                  REGULATION OF COMPUTER SERVICES PROHIBITED.
      ``(a) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
      ``(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and other 
    interactive computer services available to individual 
    Americans represent an extraordinary advance in the 
    availability of educational and informational resources to 
    our citizens.
      ``(2) These services offer users a great degree of control 
    over the information that they receive, as well as the 
    potential for even greater control in the future as 
    technology develops.
      ``(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services 
    offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, 
    unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad 
    avenues for intellectual activity.
      ``(4) The Internet and other interactive computer services 
    have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a 
    minimum of government regulation.
      ``(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive 
    media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and 
    entertainment services.
      ``(b) Policy.--It is the policy of the United States to--
      ``(1) promote the continued development of the Internet and 
    other interactive computer services and other interactive 
    media;
      ``(2) preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that 
    presently exists for the Internet and other interactive 
    computer services, unfettered by State or Federal regulation;
      ``(3) encourage the development of technologies which 
    maximize user control over the information received by 
    individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and 
    other interactive computer services;
      ``(4) remove disincentives for the development and 
    utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that 
    empower parents to restrict their children's access to 
    objectionable or inappropriate online material; and
      ``(5) ensure vigorous enforcement of criminal laws to deter 
    and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment 
    by means of computer.
      ``(c) Protection for `Good Samaritan' Blocking and 
    Screening of Offensive Material.--No provider or user of 
    interactive computer services shall be treated as the 
    publisher or speaker of any information provided by an 
    information content provider. No provider or user of 
    interactive computer services shall be held liable on account 
    of--
      ``(1) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to 
    restrict access to material that the provider or user 
    considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, 
    excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, 
    whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; 
    or
      ``(2) any action taken to make available to information 
    content providers or others the technical means to restrict 
    access to material described in paragraph (1).
      ``(d) FCC Regulation of the Internet and Other Interactive 
    Computer Services Prohibited.--Nothing in this Act shall be 
    construed to grant any jurisdiction or authority to the 
    Commission with respect to content or other regulation of the 
    Internet or other interactive computer services.
      ``(e) Effect on Other Laws.--
      ``(1) No effect on criminal law.--Nothing in this section 
    shall be construed to impair the enforcement of section 223 
    of this Act, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 
    (relating to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, 
    United States Code, or any other Federal criminal statute.
      ``(2) No effect on intellectual property law.--Nothing in 
    this section shall be construed to limit or expand any law 
    pertaining to intellectual property.
      ``(3) In general.--Nothing in this section shall be 
    construed to prevent any State from enforcing any State law 
    that is consistent with this section.
      ``(f) Definitions.--As used in this section:
      ``(1) Internet.--The term `Internet' means the 
    international computer network of both Federal and non-
    Federal interoperable packet switched data networks.
      ``(2) Interactive computer service.--The term `interactive 
    computer service' means any information service that provides 
    computer access to multiple users via modem to a remote 
    computer server, including specifically a service that 
    provides access to the Internet.
      ``(3) Information content provider.--The term `information 
    content provider' means any person or entity that is 
    responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or 
    development of information provided by the Internet or any 
    other interactive computer service, including any person or 
    entity that creates or develops blocking or screening 
    software or other techniques to permit user control over 
    offensive material..

House Rejects Senate Version of Bill and Substitutes Its Own

                 motion offered by mr. bliley
 Mr. BLILEY. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to section 2 of House Resolution 207, I offer a motion.
 The Clerk read as follows:
 Mr. Bliley moves to strike out all after the enacting clause of the Senate bill, S. 652, and insert in lieu thereof the provisions of H.R. 1555 as passed by the House, as follows:

[...]

SEC. 104. ONLINE FAMILY EMPOWERMENT.
      Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 201 
    et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new 
    section:
    ``SEC. 230. PROTECTION FOR PRIVATE BLOCKING AND SCREENING OF 
                  OFFENSIVE MATERIAL; FCC REGULATION OF COMPUTER 
                  SERVICES PROHIBITED.
      ``(a) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
      ``(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and other 
    interactive computer services available to individual 
    Americans represent an extraordinary advance in the 
    availability of educational and informational resources to 
    our citizens.
      ``(2) These services offer users a great degree of control 
    over the information that they receive, as well as the 
    potential for even greater control in the future as 
    technology develops.
      ``(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services 
    offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, 
    unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad 
    avenues for intellectual activity.
      ``(4) The Internet and other interactive computer services 
    have flourished, to the benefit of 
Page H 9988
    all Americans, with a minimum of government regulation.
      ``(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive 
    media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and 
    entertainment services.
      ``(b) Policy.--It is the policy of the United States to--
      ``(1) promote the continued development of the Internet and 
    other interactive computer services and other interactive 
    media;
      ``(2) preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that 
    presently exists for the Internet and other interactive 
    computer services, unfettered by State or Federal regulation;
      ``(3) encourage the development of technologies which 
    maximize user control over the information received by 
    individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and 
    other interactive computer services;
      ``(4) remove disincentives for the development and 
    utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that 
    empower parents to restrict their children's access to 
    objectionable or inappropriate online material; and
      ``(5) ensure vigorous enforcement of criminal laws to deter 
    and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment 
    by means of computer.
      ``(c) Protection for `Good Samaritan' Blocking and 
    Screening of Offensive Material.--No provider or user of 
    interactive computer services shall be treated as the 
    publisher or speaker of any information provided by an 
    information content provider. No provider or user of 
    interactive computer services shall be held liable on account 
    of--
      ``(1) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to 
    restrict access to material that the provider or user 
    considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, 
    excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, 
    whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; 
    or
      ``(2) any action taken to make available to information 
    content providers or others the technical means to restrict 
    access to material described in paragraph (1).
      ``(d) FCC Regulation of the Internet and Other Interactive 
    Computer Services Prohibited.--Nothing in this Act shall be 
    construed to grant any jurisdiction or authority to the 
    Commission with respect to content or any other regulation of 
    the Internet or other interactive computer services.
      ``(e) Effect on Other Laws.--
      ``(1) No effect on criminal law.--Nothing in this section 
    shall be construed to impair the enforcement of section 223 
    of this Act, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 
    (relating to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, 
    United States Code, or any other Federal criminal statute.
      ``(2) No effect on intellectual property law.--Nothing in 
    this section shall be construed to limit or expand any law 
    pertaining to intellectual property.
      ``(3) In general.--Nothing in this section shall be 
    construed to prevent any State from enforcing any State law 
    that is consistent with this section.
      ``(f) Definitions.--As used in this section:
      ``(1) Internet.--The term `Internet' means the 
    international computer network of both Federal and non-
    Federal interoperable packet switched data networks.
      ``(2) Interactive computer service.--The term `interactive 
    computer service' means any information service that provides 
    computer access to multiple users via modem to a remote 
    computer server, including specifically a service that 
    provides access to the Internet.
      ``(3) Information content provider.--The term `information 
    content provider' means any person or entity that is 
    responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or 
    development of information provided by the Internet or any 
    other interactive computer service, including any person or 
    entity that creates or develops blocking or screening 
    software or other techniques to permit user control over 
    offensive material.
      ``(4) Information service.--The term `information service' 
    means the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, 
    storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or 
    making available information via telecommunications, and 
    includes electronic publishing, but does not include any use 
    of any such capability for the management, control, or 
    operation of a telecommunications system or the management of 
    a telecommunications service..

Senate Urged to Let Cox-Wyden Stand in Final Bill

Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, today the Senate appointed Members to the House-Senate conference committee on telecommunications reform. The historic nature of this legislation and its effect on the lives of every citizen of this country goes well beyond the issues associated with regulation of telephony, cable rates, and other forms of communications. Mr. President, this legislation has dramatic implications for the first amendment rights of every American.
 Mr. President, I am referring to the precedent-setting provisions in S. 652 and H.R. 1555 regarding indecency on the Internet. I am here today to urge each Senate conferee to take the first amendment issues of these bills seriously and to consider the ramifications of these provisions not just for speech on the Internet but for all speech in this country. During conference deliberations, I urge Senate conferees to strike the potentially unconstitutional provisions regarding on-line indecency contained in both the Senate and House versions of this legislation.
 The issue of Government censorship of the Internet is a critical first amendment matter. Guaranteeing the Internet is free of speech restrictions, other than the statutory restrictions on obscenity and pornography on the Internet which already exist, should be of concern to all Americans who want to be able to freely discuss issues of importance to them regardless of whether others might view those statements as offensive or distasteful.
 Specifically, Mr. President, the Exon-Coats amendment, added to S. 652 on the Senate floor, included provisions which I believe violate the first amendment rights of Internet users and will have a chilling effect on further economic and technological development of this exciting new form of 
Page S 15153
telecommunications. When this matter was considered on the Senate floor, I urged my colleagues to reject the Exon-Coats amendment in favor of legislation requiring the Department of Justice to carefully study the applicability of existing obscenity statutes to computer networks, which Senator Leahy and I offered as an alternative.
 Specifically I have objected to the indecency provisions of S. 652 for the following reasons:
 First, indecent speech, unlike obscenity, is protected under the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution; second, an outright ban on indecent speech on computer networks is not the least restrictive means of protecting children from exposure to such speech on the Internet. There are a number of existing tools available today to allow parents to protect their children from materials which they find inappropriate; third, a ban on indecent speech to minors on the Internet will unnecessarily require adults to self-censor their communications on the Internet; fourth, since indecency will be defined by community standards, protected speech by adults will be diminished to what might be considered decent in the most conservative community in the United States and to what might be appropriate for very young children; fifth, the on-line indecency provisions will establish different standards for the same material that appears in print and on the computer screen. Works that are completely legal in the bookstore or on the library shelf would be criminal if transmitted over computer networks; sixth, the Supreme Court has ruled that the degree to which content can be regulated depends on the characteristics of the media. The unique nature of interactive media must be considered when determining how best to protect children. S. 652 ignores the degree to which users have control over the materials to which they are exposed as well as the decentralized nature of interactive technology which liken it more to print media than broadcast media.
 Mr. President, the Senate was not alone in its rush to judgment on the controversial and highly emotional issue of pornography accessed via computer networks. Section 403 of H.R. 1555, known as the Hyde amendment, raises equally serious concerns with respect to the first amendment and appears antithetical to other provisions contained in the House bill. The prohibitions against on-line indecency contained in the Hyde language will have a similar chilling effect on the on-line communications of adults. The Hyde amendment is also inconsistent with the more market oriented and less intrusive provisions of section 104 of H.R. 1555, the On-Line Family Empowerment Act introduced by Congressmen Cox and Wyden, as adopted by the House. Section 104 recognizes that first amendment protections must apply to on-line communications by prohibiting FCC content regulation of the Internet. The Cox-Wyden provisions also promote the use of existing technology to empower parents to protect their children from objectionable materials on the Internet, and encourages on-line service providers to self-police offensive communications over their private services.
 In addition, the Hyde amendment is incompatible with the pro-first amendment provisions of section 110 of H.R. 1555, which requires a report by the Department of Justice [DOJ] on existing criminal obscenity and child pornography statutes and their applicability to cyber-crime. Section 110 also requires an evaluation of the technical means available to enable parents to exercise control over the information that their children receive on the Internet. Perhaps most significantly, section 110 embraces the application of first amendment speech protections to interactive media. H.R. 1555, while embracing the principles of restraint with respect to new criminal sanctions on protected speech and the promotion of a free-market parental empowerment approach, simultaneously ignores both of those axioms with the Hyde provision. By imposing new criminal sanctions on indecent speech and amending existing criminal statutes, the Hyde amendment rushes to judgment before the DOJ study has even begun.
 Mr. President, recently the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first ever congressional hearing on the issue of cyberporn. Based on the testimony of the witnesses, which included parents as well as victims of cyberporn, it became clear that the objectionable communications on the Internet are already covered by existing criminal statutes. The concerns raised at the hearing centered upon trafficking of child pornography, the proliferation of obscenity, and the solicitation and victimization of minors via the Internet. However, those offenses are already violations of criminal law. Indeed, recent press accounts indicate that law enforcement officers are already aggressively prosecuting on-line users for violations of criminal law relating to obscenity and child pornography.
 It is critical that we use law enforcement resources to prosecute criminal activity conducted via the Internet and not be distracted by the issue of indecency which has not been identified as a serious concern by users or parents. It was clear, during our recent Senate hearing, that the witnesses' concerns about the Internet did not relate to indecent speech or the so-called seven dirty words. It is incumbent upon Congress to wait for the results of the study required by H.R. 1555 before embracing overly restrictive, potentially unnecessary, and possibly unconstitutional prohibitions on indecent speech contained in both versions of telecommunications reform legislation.
 Mr. President, I urge the conference committee to reject the Exon-Coats and Hyde provisions during its deliberations and to maintain the Cox-Wyden amendment adopted overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives. If the United States is to ever fully realize the benefits of interactive telecommunications technology, we cannot allow the heavy hand of Congress to unduly interfere with communications on this medium.
 Furthermore, Mr. President, I urge Senate conferees to recognize that if the first amendment has any relevancy at all in the 1990's, it must be applied to speech on the Internet. As Members of this body sworn to uphold the Constitution we cannot take a cafeteria style approach to the first amendment, protecting the same speech in some forms of media and not in others. Shifting political views about what types of speech are viewed as distasteful should not be allowed to determine what is or is not an appropriate use of electronic communications. While the current target of our political climate is indecent speech--the so-called seven dirty words--a weakening of first amendment protections could lead to the censorship of other crucial types of speech, including religious expression and political dissent.
 I believe the censorship of the Internet is a perilous road for the Congress to walk down. It sets a dangerous precedent for first amendment protections and it is unclear where that road will end.

As Reported from Conference Committee

[The Senate received an identical report, which will for obvious reasons not be duplicated. Since it is now January 1996, page numbers are now those of Volume 142 of the Congressional Record]

     The committee of conference on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on the amendments of the House to the bill (S. 652), to provide for a pro-competitive, de-regulatory national policy framework designed to accelerate rapidly private sector deployment of advanced telecommunications and information technologies and services to all Americans by opening all telecommunications markets to competition, and for other purposes, having met, after full and free conference, have agreed to recommend and do recommend to their respective Houses as follows:
     That the Senate recede from its disagreement to the amendment of the House to the text of the bill and agree to the same with an amendment as follows:
     In lieu of the matter proposed to be inserted by the House amendment, insert the following:

[...]

SEC. 509. ONLINE FAMILY EMPOWERMENT.
   Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 201 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

[Definition of "access software provider" added; inconsistent state and local laws preempted; communications privacy laws explicitly declared not to be affected. Subsection (c) divided into two paragraphs, but reference in new paragraph (2) to "paragraph (1)", now subparagraph (A), inadvertently left in place]

``SEC. 230. PROTECTION FOR PRIVATE BLOCKING AND SCREENING OF OFFENSIVE 
                   MATERIAL.
   ``(a) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
           ``(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and 
       other interactive computer services available to 
       individual Americans represent an extraordinary advance 
       in the availability of educational and informational 
       resources to our citizens.
           ``(2) These services offer users a great degree of 
       control over the information that they receive, as well 
       as the potential for even greater control in the future 
       as technology develops.
           ``(3) The Internet and other interactive computer 
       services offer a forum for a true diversity of 
       political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural 
       development, and myriad avenues for intellectual 
       activity.
           ``(4) The Internet and other interactive computer 
       services have flourished, to the benefit of all 
       Americans, with a minimum of government regulation.
           ``(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on 
       interactive media for a variety of political, 
       educational, cultural, and entertainment services.
   ``(b) Policy.--It is the policy of the United States--
           ``(1) to promote the continued development of the 
       Internet and other interactive computer services and 
       other interactive media;
           ``(2) to preserve the vibrant and competitive free 
       market that presently exists for the Internet and other 
       interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or 
       State regulation;
           ``(3) to encourage the development of technologies 
       which maximize user control over what information is 
       received by individuals, families, and schools who use 
       the Internet and other interactive computer services;
           ``(4) to remove disincentives for the development 
       and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies 
       that empower parents to restrict their children's 
       access to objectionable or inappropriate online 
       material; and
           ``(5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal 
       criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in 
       obscenity, stalking, and harassment by means of 
       computer.
   ``(c) Protection for `Good Samaritan' Blocking and Screening of Offensive Material.--
           ``(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker.--No 
       provider or user of an interactive computer service 
       shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any 
       information provided by another information content 
       provider.
           ``(2) Civil liability.--No provider or user of an 
       interactive computer service shall be held liable on 
       account of--
                   ``(A) any action voluntarily taken in good 
               faith to restrict access to or availability of 
               material that the provider or user considers to 
               be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, 
               excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise 
               objectionable, whether or not such material is 
               constitutionally protected; or
                   ``(B) any action taken to enable or make 
               available to information content providers or 
               others the technical means to restrict access 
               to material described in paragraph (1).
   ``(d) Effect on Other Laws.--
           ``(1) No effect on criminal law.--Nothing in this 
       section shall be construed to impair the enforcement of 
       section 223 of this Act, chapter 71 (relating to 
       obscenity) or 110 (relating to sexual exploitation of 
       children) of title 18, United States Code, or any other 
       Federal criminal statute.
           ``(2) No effect on intellectual property law.--
       Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or 
       expand any law pertaining to intellectual property.
           ``(3) State law.--Nothing in this section shall be 
       construed to prevent any State from enforcing any State 
       law that is consistent with this section. No cause of 
       action may be brought and no liability may be imposed 
       under any State or local law that is inconsistent with 
       this section.
           ``(4) No effect on communications privacy law.--
       Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the 
       application of the Electronic Communications Privacy 
       Act of 1986 or any of the amendments made by such Act, 
       or any similar State law.
   ``(e) Definitions.--As used in this section:
           ``(1) Internet.--The term `Internet' means the 
       international computer network of both Federal and non-
       Federal interoperable packet switched data networks.
           ``(2) Interactive computer service.--The term 
       `interactive computer service' means any information 
       service, system, or access software provider that 
       provides or enables computer access by multiple users 
       to a computer server, including specifically a service 
       or system that provides access to the Internet and such 
       systems operated or services offered by libraries or 
       educational institutions.
           ``(3) Information content provider.--The term 
       `information content provider' means any person or 
       entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for 
       the creation or development of information provided 
       through the Internet or any other interactive computer 
       service.
           ``(4) Access software provider.--The term `access 
       software provider' means a provider of software 
       (including client or server software), or enabling 
       tools that do any one or more of the following:
                   ``(A) filter, screen, allow, or disallow 
               content;
                   ``(B) pick, choose, analyze, or digest 
               content; or
                   ``(C) transmit, receive, display, forward, 
               cache, search, subset, organize, reorganize, or 
               translate content..

[...]

JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE
     The managers on the part of the House and the Senate at the conference on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on the amendments of the House to the bill S. 652, to provide for a procompetitive, de-regulatory national policy framework designed to accelerate rapidly private sector deployment of advanced telecommunications and information technologies and services to all Americans by opening all telecommunications markets to competition, and for other purposes, submit the following joint statement to the House and the Senate in explanation of the effect of the action agreed upon by the managers and recommended in the accompanying conference report:
     The House amendment to the text of the bill struck all of the Senate bill after the enacting clause and inserted a substitute text.
     The Senate recedes from its disagreement to the amendment of the House with an amendment that is a substitute for the Senate bill and the House amendment. The differences between the Senate bill, the House amendment, and the substitute agreed to in conference are noted below, except for clerical corrections, conforming changes made necessary by agreements reached by the conferees, and minor drafting and clerical changes.

[...]

section 509--online family empowerment
    Senate bill
      No provision.
    House amendment
      Section 104 of the House amendment protects from civil 
    liability those providers and users of interactive computer 
    services for actions to restrict or to enable restriction of 
    access to objectionable online material.
    Conference agreement
      The conference agreement adopts the House provision with 
    minor modifications as a new section 230 of the 
    Communications Act. This section provides ``Good Samaritan 
    protections from civil liability for providers or users of an 
    interactive computer service for actions to restrict or to 
    enable restriction of access to objectionable online 
    material. One of the specific purposes of this section is to 
    overrule Stratton-Oakmont v. Prodigy and any other similar 
    decisions which have treated such providers and users as 
    publishers or speakers of content that is not their own 
    because they have restricted access to objectionable 
    material. The conferees believe that such decisions create 
    serious obstacles to the important federal policy of 
    empowering parents to determine the content of communications 
    their children receive through interactive computer services.
      These protections apply to all interactive computer 
    services, as defined in new subsection 230(e)(2), including 
    non-subscriber systems such as those operated by many 
    businesses for employee use. They also apply to all access 
    software providers, as defined in new section 230(e)(5), 
    including providers of proxy server software.
      The conferees do not intend, however, that these 
    protections from civil liability apply to so-called 
    ``cancelbotting, in which recipients of a message respond 
    by deleting the message from the computer systems of others 
    without the consent of the originator or without having the 
    right to do so.

As Signed Into Law

SEC. 509. ONLINE FAMILY EMPOWERMENT.
   Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 201 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
``SEC. 230. <<NOTE: 47 USC 230.>>  PROTECTION FOR PRIVATE BLOCKING AND 
           SCREENING OF OFFENSIVE MATERIAL.
   ``(a) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
 Page 110 STAT. 138
           ``(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and other 
       interactive computer services available to individual Americans 
       represent an extraordinary advance in the availability of 
       educational and informational resources to our citizens.
           ``(2) These services offer users a great degree of control 
       over the information that they receive, as well as the potential 
       for even greater control in the future as technology develops.
           ``(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services 
       offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, 
       unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad 
       avenues for intellectual activity.
           ``(4) The Internet and other interactive computer services 
       have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a minimum 
       of government regulation.
           ``(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive 
       media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and 
       entertainment services.
   ``(b) Policy.--It is the policy of the United States--
           ``(1) to promote the continued development of the Internet 
       and other interactive computer services and other interactive 
       media;
           ``(2) to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market 
       that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive 
       computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation;
           ``(3) to encourage the development of technologies which 
       maximize user control over what information is received by 
       individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and 
       other interactive computer services;
           ``(4) to remove disincentives for the development and 
       utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower 
       parents to restrict their children's access to objectionable or 
       inappropriate online material; and
           ``(5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal 
       laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and 
       harassment by means of computer.
   ``(c) Protection for `Good Samaritan' Blocking and Screening of Offensive Material.--
           ``(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker.--No provider or 
       user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the 
       publisher or speaker of any information provided by another 
       information content provider.
           ``(2) Civil liability.--No provider or user of an 
       interactive computer service shall be held liable on account 
       of--
                   ``(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to 
               restrict access to or availability of material that the 
               provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, 
               lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or 
               otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is 
               constitutionally protected; or
                   ``(B) any action taken to enable or make available 
               to information content providers or others the technical 
               means to restrict access to material described in 
               paragraph (1).
   ``(d) Effect on Other Laws.--
           ``(1) No effect on criminal law.--Nothing in this section 
       shall be construed to impair the enforcement of section 223 of 
       this Act, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 (relating
Page 110 STAT. 139
       to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, United States 
       Code, or any other Federal criminal statute.
           ``(2) No effect on intellectual property law.--Nothing in 
       this section shall be construed to limit or expand any law 
       pertaining to intellectual property.
           ``(3) State law.--Nothing in this section shall be construed 
       to prevent any State from enforcing any State law that is 
       consistent with this section. No cause of action may be brought 
       and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law 
       that is inconsistent with this section.
           ``(4) No effect on communications privacy law.--Nothing in 
       this section shall be construed to limit the application of the 
       Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 or any of the 
       amendments made by such Act, or any similar State law.
   ``(e) Definitions.--As used in this section:
           ``(1) Internet.--The term `Internet' means the international 
       computer network of both Federal and non-Federal interoperable 
       packet switched data networks.
           ``(2) Interactive computer service.--The term `interactive 
       computer service' means any information service, system, or 
       access software provider that provides or enables computer 
       access by multiple users to a computer server, including 
       specifically a service or system that provides access to the 
       Internet and such systems operated or services offered by 
       libraries or educational institutions.
           ``(3) Information content provider.--The term `information 
       content provider' means any person or entity that is 
       responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or 
       development of information provided through the Internet or any 
       other interactive computer service.
           ``(4) Access software provider.--The term `access software 
       provider' means a provider of software (including client or 
       server software), or enabling tools that do any one or more of 
       the following:
                   ``(A) filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;
                   ``(B) pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or
                   ``(C) transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, 
               search, subset, organize, reorganize, or translate 
               content..

As Currently Printed in US Code

§230. Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material
(a) Findings
The Congress finds the following:
(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and other interactive computer services available to individual Americans represent an extraordinary advance in the availability of educational and informational resources to our citizens.
(2) These services offer users a great degree of control over the information that they receive, as well as the potential for even greater control in the future as technology develops.
(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.
(4) The Internet and other interactive computer services have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a minimum of government regulation.
(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services.
(b) Policy
It is the policy of the United States-
(1) to promote the continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer services and other interactive media;
(2) to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation;
(3) to encourage the development of technologies which maximize user control over what information is received by individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and other interactive computer services;
(4) to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children's access to objectionable or inappropriate online material; and
(5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment by means of computer.
(c) Protection for "Good Samaritan" blocking and screening of offensive material
(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
(2) Civil liability
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of-
(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or
(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1).[1]
(d) Obligations of interactive computer service
A provider of interactive computer service shall, at the time of entering an agreement with a customer for the provision of interactive computer service and in a manner deemed appropriate by the provider, notify such customer that parental control protections (such as computer hardware, software, or filtering services) are commercially available that may assist the customer in limiting access to material that is harmful to minors. Such notice shall identify, or provide the customer with access to information identifying, current providers of such protections.
(e) Effect on other laws
(1) No effect on criminal law
Nothing in this section shall be construed to impair the enforcement of section 223 or 231 of this title, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 (relating to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, or any other Federal criminal statute.
(2) No effect on intellectual property law
Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or expand any law pertaining to intellectual property.
(3) State law
Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any State from enforcing any State law that is consistent with this section. No cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section.
(4) No effect on communications privacy law
Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the application of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 or any of the amendments made by such Act, or any similar State law.
(5) No effect on sex trafficking law
Nothing in this section (other than subsection (c)(2)(A)) shall be construed to impair or limit-
(A) any claim in a civil action brought under section 1595 of title 18, if the conduct underlying the claim constitutes a violation of section 1591 of that title;
(B) any charge in a criminal prosecution brought under State law if the conduct underlying the charge would constitute a violation of section 1591 of title 18; or
(C) any charge in a criminal prosecution brought under State law if the conduct underlying the charge would constitute a violation of section 2421A of title 18, and promotion or facilitation of prostitution is illegal in the jurisdiction where the defendant's promotion or facilitation of prostitution was targeted.
(f) Definitions
As used in this section:
(1) Internet
The term "Internet" means the international computer network of both Federal and non-Federal interoperable packet switched data networks.
(2) Interactive computer service
The term "interactive computer service" means any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the Internet and such systems operated or services offered by libraries or educational institutions.
(3) Information content provider
The term "information content provider" means any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service.
(4) Access software provider
The term "access software provider" means a provider of software (including client or server software), or enabling tools that do any one or more of the following:
(A) filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;
(B) pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or
(C) transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, search, subset, organize, reorganize, or translate content.
(June 19, 1934, ch. 652, title II, §230, as added Pub. L. 104–104, title V, §509, Feb. 8, 1996, 110 Stat. 137 ; amended Pub. L. 105–277, div. C, title XIV, §1404(a), Oct. 21, 1998, 112 Stat. 2681–739 ; Pub. L. 115–164, §4(a), Apr. 11, 2018, 132 Stat. 1254 .)
Editorial Notes
References in Text
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, referred to in subsec. (e)(4), is Pub. L. 99–508, Oct. 21, 1986, 100 Stat. 1848 , as amended. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title of 1986 Amendment note set out under section 2510 of Title 18, Crimes and Criminal Procedure, and Tables.
Codification
Section 509 of Pub. L. 104–104, which directed amendment of title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 201 et seq.) by adding section 230 at end, was executed by adding the section at end of part I of title II of the Act to reflect the probable intent of Congress and amendments by sections 101(a), (b), and 151(a) of Pub. L. 104–104 designating §§201 to 229 as part I and adding parts II (§251 et seq.) and III (§271 et seq.) to title II of the Act.
Amendments
2018-Subsec. (e)(5). Pub. L. 115–164 added par. (5).
1998-Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 105–277, §1404(a)(3), added subsec. (d). Former subsec. (d) redesignated (e).
Subsec. (d)(1). Pub. L. 105–277, §1404(a)(1), inserted "or 231" after "section 223".
Subsecs. (e), (f). Pub. L. 105–277, §1404(a)(2), redesignated subsecs. (d) and (e) as (e) and (f), respectively.
Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Effective Date of 2018 Amendment
Pub. L. 115–164, §4(b), Apr. 11, 2018, 132 Stat. 1254 , provided that: "The amendments made by this section [amending this section] shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act [Apr. 11, 2018], and the amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply regardless of whether the conduct alleged occurred, or is alleged to have occurred, before, on, or after such date of enactment."
Effective Date of 1998 Amendment
Amendment by Pub. L. 105–277 effective 30 days after Oct. 21, 1998, see section 1406 of Pub. L. 105–277, set out as a note under section 223 of this title.
Savings
Pub. L. 115–164, §7, Apr. 11, 2018, 132 Stat. 1255 , provided that: "Nothing in this Act [see Short Title of 2018 Amendment note set out under section 1 of Title 18, Crimes and Criminal Procedure] or the amendments made by this Act shall be construed to limit or preempt any civil action or criminal prosecution under Federal law or State law (including State statutory law and State common law) filed before or after the day before the date of enactment of this Act [Apr. 11, 2018] that was not limited or preempted by section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 230), as such section was in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this Act."
Sense of Congress
Pub. L. 115–164, §2, Apr. 11, 2018, 132 Stat. 1253 , provided that: "It is the sense of Congress that-
"(1) section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 230; commonly known as the 'Communications Decency Act of 1996') was never intended to provide legal protection to websites that unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution and websites that facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims;
"(2) websites that promote and facilitate prostitution have been reckless in allowing the sale of sex trafficking victims and have done nothing to prevent the trafficking of children and victims of force, fraud, and coercion; and
"(3) clarification of such section is warranted to ensure that such section does not provide such protection to such websites."
Executive Documents
Ex. Ord. No. 13925. Preventing Online Censorship
Ex. Ord. No. 13925, May 28, 2020, 85 F.R. 34079, provided:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy. Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution. The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people.
In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet. This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.
The growth of online platforms in recent years raises important questions about applying the ideals of the First Amendment to modern communications technology. Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with friends and family, and share their views on current events through social media and other online platforms. As a result, these platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.
As President, I have made clear my commitment to free and open debate on the internet. Such debate is just as important online as it is in our universities, our town halls, and our homes. It is essential to sustaining our democracy.
Online platforms are engaging in selective censorship that is harming our national discourse. Tens of thousands of Americans have reported, among other troubling behaviors, online platforms "flagging" content as inappropriate, even though it does not violate any stated terms of service; making unannounced and unexplained changes to company policies that have the effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints; and deleting content and entire accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse.
Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias. As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician's tweet. As recently as last week, Representative Adam Schiff was continuing to mislead his followers by peddling the long-disproved Russian Collusion Hoax, and Twitter did not flag those tweets. Unsurprisingly, its officer in charge of so-called "Site Integrity" has flaunted his political bias in his own tweets.
At the same time online platforms are invoking inconsistent, irrational, and groundless justifications to censor or otherwise restrict Americans' speech here at home, several online platforms are profiting from and promoting the aggression and disinformation spread by foreign governments like China. One United States company, for example, created a search engine for the Chinese Communist Party that would have blacklisted searches for "human rights," hid data unfavorable to the Chinese Communist Party, and tracked users determined appropriate for surveillance. It also established research partnerships in China that provide direct benefits to the Chinese military. Other companies have accepted advertisements paid for by the Chinese government that spread false information about China's mass imprisonment of religious minorities, thereby enabling these abuses of human rights. They have also amplified China's propaganda abroad, including by allowing Chinese government officials to use their platforms to spread misinformation regarding the origins of the COVID–19 pandemic, and to undermine pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
As a Nation, we must foster and protect diverse viewpoints in today's digital communications environment where all Americans can and should have a voice. We must seek transparency and accountability from online platforms, and encourage standards and tools to protect and preserve the integrity and openness of American discourse and freedom of expression.
Sec. 2. Protections Against Online Censorship. (a) It is the policy of the United States to foster clear ground rules promoting free and open debate on the internet. Prominent among the ground rules governing that debate is the immunity from liability created by section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act (section 230(c)). 47 U.S.C. 230(c). It is the policy of the United States that the scope of that immunity should be clarified: the immunity should not extend beyond its text and purpose to provide protection for those who purport to provide users a forum for free and open speech, but in reality use their power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.
Section 230(c) was designed to address early court decisions holding that, if an online platform restricted access to some content posted by others, it would thereby become a "publisher" of all the content posted on its site for purposes of torts such as defamation. As the title of section 230(c) makes clear, the provision provides limited liability "protection" to a provider of an interactive computer service (such as an online platform) that engages in " 'Good Samaritan' blocking" of harmful content. In particular, the Congress sought to provide protections for online platforms that attempted to protect minors from harmful content and intended to ensure that such providers would not be discouraged from taking down harmful material. The provision was also intended to further the express vision of the Congress that the internet is a "forum for a true diversity of political discourse." 47 U.S.C. 230(a)(3). The limited protections provided by the statute should be construed with these purposes in mind.
In particular, subparagraph (c)(2) expressly addresses protections from "civil liability" and specifies that an interactive computer service provider may not be made liable "on account of" its decision in "good faith" to restrict access to content that it considers to be "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable." It is the policy of the United States to ensure that, to the maximum extent permissible under the law, this provision is not distorted to provide liability protection for online platforms that-far from acting in "good faith" to remove objectionable content-instead engage in deceptive or pretextual actions (often contrary to their stated terms of service) to stifle viewpoints with which they disagree. Section 230 was not intended to allow a handful of companies to grow into titans controlling vital avenues for our national discourse under the guise of promoting open forums for debate, and then to provide those behemoths blanket immunity when they use their power to censor content and silence viewpoints that they dislike. When an interactive computer service provider removes or restricts access to content and its actions do not meet the criteria of subparagraph (c)(2)(A), it is engaged in editorial conduct. It is the policy of the United States that such a provider should properly lose the limited liability shield of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) and be exposed to liability like any traditional editor and publisher that is not an online provider.
(b) To advance the policy described in subsection (a) of this section, all executive departments and agencies should ensure that their application of section 230(c) properly reflects the narrow purpose of the section and take all appropriate actions in this regard. In addition, within 60 days of the date of this order [May 28, 2020], the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), in consultation with the Attorney General, and acting through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), shall file a petition for rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting that the FCC expeditiously propose regulations to clarify:
(i) the interaction between subparagraphs (c)(1) and (c)(2) of section 230, in particular to clarify and determine the circumstances under which a provider of an interactive computer service that restricts access to content in a manner not specifically protected by subparagraph (c)(2)(A) may also not be able to claim protection under subparagraph (c)(1), which merely states that a provider shall not be treated as a publisher or speaker for making third-party content available and does not address the provider's responsibility for its own editorial decisions;
(ii) the conditions under which an action restricting access to or availability of material is not "taken in good faith" within the meaning of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) of section 230, particularly whether actions can be "taken in good faith" if they are:
(A) deceptive, pretextual, or inconsistent with a provider's terms of service; or
(B) taken after failing to provide adequate notice, reasoned explanation, or a meaningful opportunity to be heard; and
(iii) any other proposed regulations that the NTIA concludes may be appropriate to advance the policy described in subsection (a) of this section.
Sec. 3. Protecting Federal Taxpayer Dollars from Financing Online Platforms That Restrict Free Speech. (a) The head of each executive department and agency (agency) shall review its agency's Federal spending on advertising and marketing paid to online platforms. Such review shall include the amount of money spent, the online platforms that receive Federal dollars, and the statutory authorities available to restrict their receipt of advertising dollars.
(b) Within 30 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency shall report its findings to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
(c) The Department of Justice shall review the viewpoint-based speech restrictions imposed by each online platform identified in the report described in subsection (b) of this section and assess whether any online platforms are problematic vehicles for government speech due to viewpoint discrimination, deception to consumers, or other bad practices.
Sec. 4. Federal Review of Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices. (a) It is the policy of the United States that large online platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, as the critical means of promoting the free flow of speech and ideas today, should not restrict protected speech. The Supreme Court has noted that social media sites, as the modern public square, "can provide perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to a private citizen to make his or her voice heard." Packingham v. North Carolina, 137 S. Ct. 1730, 1737 (2017). Communication through these channels has become important for meaningful participation in American democracy, including to petition elected leaders. These sites are providing an important forum to the public for others to engage in free expression and debate. Cf. PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74, 85–89 (1980).
(b) In May of 2019, the White House launched a Tech Bias Reporting tool to allow Americans to report incidents of online censorship. In just weeks, the White House received over 16,000 complaints of online platforms censoring or otherwise taking action against users based on their political viewpoints. The White House will submit such complaints received to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
(c) The FTC shall consider taking action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to prohibit unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, pursuant to section 45 of title 15, United States Code. Such unfair or deceptive acts or practice may include practices by entities covered by section 230 that restrict speech in ways that do not align with those entities' public representations about those practices.
(d) For large online platforms that are vast arenas for public debate, including the social media platform Twitter, the FTC shall also, consistent with its legal authority, consider whether complaints allege violations of law that implicate the policies set forth in section 4(a) of this order. The FTC shall consider developing a report describing such complaints and making the report publicly available, consistent with applicable law.
Sec. 5. State Review of Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices and Anti-Discrimination Laws. (a) The Attorney General shall establish a working group regarding the potential enforcement of State statutes that prohibit online platforms from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The working group shall also develop model legislation for consideration by legislatures in States where existing statutes do not protect Americans from such unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The working group shall invite State Attorneys General for discussion and consultation, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.
(b) Complaints described in section 4(b) of this order will be shared with the working group, consistent with applicable law. The working group shall also collect publicly available information regarding the following:
(i) increased scrutiny of users based on the other users they choose to follow, or their interactions with other users;
(ii) algorithms to suppress content or users based on indications of political alignment or viewpoint;
(iii) differential policies allowing for otherwise impermissible behavior, when committed by accounts associated with the Chinese Communist Party or other anti-democratic associations or governments;
(iv) reliance on third-party entities, including contractors, media organizations, and individuals, with indicia of bias to review content; and
(v) acts that limit the ability of users with particular viewpoints to earn money on the platform compared with other users similarly situated.
Sec. 6. Legislation. The Attorney General shall develop a proposal for Federal legislation that would be useful to promote the policy objectives of this order.
Sec. 7. Definition. For purposes of this order, the term "online platform" means any website or application that allows users to create and share content or engage in social networking, or any general search engine.
Sec. 8. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Donald J. Trump.

  1. So in original. Probably should be "subparagraph (A)."